Category Archives: marketing

Not playing with a full deck

WARNING: This post has more to do with marketing bloggers than with marketing…

I played football from the time I was in 5th grade until I was a sophomore in High School. In additon, I coached a Little League football team for 6 years. Today, football is about the only sport I watch on TV.

So it was with excitement that I accepted the invitation to join the Yahoo! Sports “Marketing Bloggers Fantasy Football League” that is run by Commish John “Tagliabue” Moore over at Brand Autopsy.

It’s the first time I have ever participated in a Fantasy Football League. So after figuring out the system, I go into the Fantasy dashboard and start developing strategy for Team Shotgun Marketing. I thought I had a pretty good shot going into this weekend. I was wrong.

Apparently, I messed something up….because during the games, I only had a few men “on the field”. Everyone else was benched. As a result, I’m dead last in the rankings.


When I was coaching Little League, it was a constant stuggle counting how many of the kids were on the field. We ran plays with 10 players sometimes and slipped by the officials several times with 12 (or 13) while the kids figured out if they were supposed to be on the field. It’s good to know I’m back on the Little League level with the my Fantasy skill level.

I’m going to try and figure out this new fangled computer stuff. And maybe we’ll rally next weekend.


Caffeinated Promises

There’s the old adage that “if you don’t take care of your customers…someone else will”. That now seems to be the case after Starbucks reneged on an iced coffee internet coupon.

As always, when you drop the ball, someone is there to immediately pick it up. Caribou Coffee has announced they will accept the Starbucks coupons for a set timeframe this Friday afternoon.

Aside from the fact that Starbucks shouldn’t be in the coupon business (if you can lay out $3 for a cup of coffee…you’re not a coupon clipper), this shows a deeper truth about marketing. Honor your promises to the customers. Even if that “promise” wasn’t exactly what you meant or got a little out of hand, if it won’t bankrupt you….follow through. Or else a bunch of your customers might be checking out a competitor this Friday afternoon.


The New CW

There was a slight buzz when the news came out, but there’s not much talk (in marketing anyway) about the new CW Network which will launch as a merger of the weak WB and UPN networks later this month.

I watch the WB’s #1 affiliate station out of Louisville, KY. They actually have their act together. So maybe I get a biased view of the marketing behind the merger.

But it seems the new network is doing most things right. They’ve clearly defined what the new network will look like to the present viewers of the UPN and WB affiliates. They are slowly integrating the CW marketing/promos into the programming. And all the graphic/production value of everything looks really good.

They are doing a good job thinking thinking outside the broadcast box. They will be streaming some of their shows with MSN. And they are the first major network to have a MySpace profile.

Of course, it’s easy for a media property to get the word out. They own the pipeline. Recent estimates of the merger campiagn linger in the $50 million neighborhood. But, most of that are house ads that they aren’t really paying for.

They did pick a bad URL. My first thought when typing browser-direct was Or maybe Or even Wrong on all counts. In some of these cases, cyber-squatters are the reason and the CW will pay for not being quick enough to register these URLs earlier.

Will the CW be a success? With this kind of marketing campaign 10 years ago, I would have said absolutely. Today, starting a new network (even out of the scraps of two old ones) seems kind of like starting a new telegraph service after the telephone came out. The market is moving (has moved) toward the net…not to the TV.


Planetary Branding

Before I begin…let me just say this analogy is imperfect…but we’re working on it.

The planet Pluto got “demoted” this week. It’s now official. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) stripped Pluto of the planetary status it has held since its discovery in 1930. It’s now a “dwarf planet” or a “trans-Neptunian object”.

But, a lot of people aren’t buying that. Depending on which recent poll numbers you believe, 60 to 80% of people are saying they’ll still treat Pluto as a planet.

See, it’s been the common view that Pluto is a planet for the last 76 years. In fact, the astronomers even took what the public might think into account in the decision since we all kind of have an interest in “our” solar system. Some of the astronomers were even trying to “save Pluto”. That’s why the 12 (plus) planet model was proposed last week.

Now obviously, this is a science/astronomy issue and this isn’t the Shotgun Astronomy Blog. What’s the link with marketing?

If you’re a long time reader of this blog, you’ll know that my brand philosophy states that branding is one of the most important marketing tools, but I am adamantly opposed to the idea of “re-branding” As evidenced [here] [here] [here] [here] and [here]

Scientific classification needs aside….in essence, the IAU attempted to “re-brand” the solar system last week. Nothing has changed out in the cosmos. We’re just supposed to describe it and relate to it in a different way.

In the same way that you might be rolling your eyes at this IAU Pluto decision, consumers roll their eyes when you throw out a new logo and say “things are different, now!”.

Brands don’t change overnight. Brands are created by the consumer. They are NOT created by the company. Brands are a bottom-up proposition….not top-down. Yes, you can guide the way the brand is developed and place the necessary items in the marketing conversation to lead the development. But, a brand is truly developed with time in the consumers’ experiences with your organization.

And the longer a brand impression is in the consumers’ minds…the longer it will take to change it. The “solar system brand” will have 9 planets for as long as the public wants it to have 9. New textbooks and planetary models will slowly change the public’s perception of the brand.

The next time your company sits around a table and “votes” to change the brand…ask yourself if Pluto is a planet.


Viral Purple Cow Synergy

(inspired by the recent good-natured sparring between Hugh and Tara…. )

Life cycle of good ideas:
1) Forward thinking individual(s) come up with groundbreaking idea/theory/method/etc
2) Group that surrounds individual(s) takes idea and runs with it…improves it…communicates it.
3) Sales/marketing/ad folks take idea and corrupt it. (book may be written at this stage)
4) Original thinkers shun the idea
5) Rinse. Repeat.

History of late is full of “buzzwords” that initially were great ideas, but then were destroyed by the unwashed masses.

Watch out. The Long Tail is next.


Customers. Not Patients.

As I talk to healthcare groups about the new world of healthcare marketing, I emphasize one point that’s sometimes well-received and that’s sometimes cast aside: The healthcare industry must stop thinking of terms of “patients” and need to start thinking in terms of “customers”.

These “customers” have choices: to participate in the treatment, go across the street to another healthcare provider, find alternative treatments, or not be treated at all. Healthcare marketing will influence the decision they make.

I was encouraged by this recent article in Wired magazine The article talks about a few hospitals “getting it” and taking notes from the hotel industry.

It’s a lesson that all businesses can take away. Even if you deal in a commodity that the consumer “has” to have, there’s a need for marketing. And marketing doesn’t necessarily mean more advertising and promotion. The best marketing you can do is to improve the customer experience. The dividends will come soon after that.


Marketing Big Idea

From Doc Searls…

“….far too much of what we call “Marketing” is about capturing and holding customers, rather than finding and satisfying customer needs…”


Doc’s entire article is here. Although I don’t agree with all of it as much as the above quote. Tara and Hugh do a good job talking from the marketing side of the equation.